Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Newcomers lift Walleye to snap 3-game losing streak


The Walleye's Peter Leblanc blasts a shot past Bakersfield goalie Josh Tordjman at the Huntington Center.

The Blade/Lori King
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In a season where much has gone wrong, some fresh faces helped the Walleye shake out of a funk and snap a three-game losing streak Friday night.

Three players who were assigned to Toledo from Grand Rapids each contributed in a 4-3 win over Bakersfield before a crowd of 4,792 at the Huntington Center.

Left winger Willie Coetzee had a goal and an assist, goalie Jordan Pearce earned the win with 20 saves, while defenseman Brian Lashoff had an assist and four shots.

"A team lacking in confidence like ours has been could use a couple fresh faces," Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said.

Toledo (7-11-2) won at home for the first time since Nov.6 where it improved to 3-6-1. The line of Peter Leblanc (1 goal, 2 assists), Zack Torquato (assist), and Andy Bohmbach (goal) continued to click.

"It's huge, especially getting it at home for the fans," said Bohmbach, who scored the game-winner with 11 minutes left. "We know each other off the ice. We work well together."

Toledo, which ranks second in the ECHL with 34.16 shots per game, outshot the Condors 39-23.

Up 2-1 in the third, Coetzee pounced on a rebound to extend the lead to two. Leblanc made a nice move up the left wing and got off a shot. Coetzee, who has played in 11 games for Grand Rapids with four assists, had the quick follow up for a 3-1 lead.

"Willie has great speed, and that was a nice goal there. He buried it," Vitucci said.

Bakersfield answered with a power play goal to make it 3-2 with 13:18 left. But Toledo regained a two-goal lead when Torquato sent a perfect pass through the slot to Bohmbach. His one timer made it 4-2 with 11 minutes to go.

With their goalie pulled, Bakersfield scored with 57.9 seconds left to make it a one-goal game. The Condors (8-11-1) pulled their goalie again. But Pearce, who made his first start for Toledo since Oct. 22, and the Walleye held on.

"Pearce played solid," Vitucci said.

Bohmbach, who now has six goals and six assists, said the change in the lineup helped.

"It shakes things up," Bohmbach said. "There are trades going on, and we realize that. It's bad to say but it might make people play a little harder. They were a big help."

The teams meet again tonight at 7 at the Huntington Center.

"Now we know them a little bit and hopefully we can do it again," Bohmbach said.

Defenseman Kyle Page scored the initial goal for the Walleye as Bakersfield goalie Josh Tordjman (35 saves) was screened just 4:34 into the game.

Leblanc scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season on a terrific individual effort. On a solo break on a pass from Adam Keefe, Leblanc deked with his stick then went to the backhand to beat Tordjman. Toledo went up 2-0 with 2:26 left in the first period.

"He's a crafty and skilled player that is around the puck all the time," Vitucci said.

Bakersfield got on the board when Pearce could not glove a shot and the rebound was knocked home to make it 2-1 with 5:03 remaining in the second period.

"This ain't going to be easy," Vitucci said. "Getting out of this hole that we're in is going to be a grind. But we are up for the task. We are at a point where we have to not get too high or too low. We just have to peck away at it. It's a good starting point."

FISH TALES: Just 1:48 into the game, Toledo's Scott Fletcher got into a fight with Erick Lizon. Lizon landed the first punch, but Fletcher sent Lizon to the ice with a big right. … After two periods, Toledo held a 25-13 advantage in shots. Toledo improved to 5-0-0 when leading after two periods. … Veteran F Scooter Smith was placed on the injured reserve before Friday night's game. In 16 games, Smith has just two assists and is a minus-12. D Ryan Stokes (2 G, 3 A in 12 games) remains on the injured reserve with a hip injury. F Mike Hedden (3 G, 3 A in 18 games) was a scratch. … Of the 16 players who have appeared regularly in the lineup this season, only three were on the positive side of the plus-minus rating.

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